SHSU bids farewell to Dr. Ferol Robinson

For those who knew Ferol Robinson say he was a unique person who spent his life not only teaching students lessons in Journalism, but lessons in life as well.

Born in Jewett, Texas on June 1, 1918, Robinson passed away at the age of 88 on Feb. 4, 2007 at Huntsville Memorial Hospital in Huntsville, Texas.

Graduating from Jewett High school, Robinson enrolled at Sam Houston State University where he earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees. In 1946, Robinson began to teach journalism courses at SHSU.

Taking a short break to go back to school for his doctorate degree, Robinson, or as students knew him, ‘Dr. R.’ came back to SHSU in 1953, where he would become one of the most loved professors.

“I met Dr. R. in 1955 when I was a senior in high school,” said Jon “Buncky” McConal. “I wanted to be a writer and my older brother had him as a professor and recommended that I take his class.”

Students, friends and colleagues remember Robinson for always being a man who gave everything to help others. When he knew a student was in need, Robinson found ways to help.

“I began classes at Sam Houston State towards the end of the draft and we had no money,” McConal said. “Dr. R. got me two scholarships that helped me pay for my tuition and books.”

Those who knew Robinson knew that his love for his students went far beyond the classroom.

“I always thought that Ferol thought of the students at Sam as his own, which made me think he didn’t have any of his own,” said Mickey Herskowitz, friend and fellow Professor of Journalism at Sam Houston State. “But I later found out that he had a large family and he loved them dearly.”

Known for always being a joy to be around, many say Robinson was always ready to find ways to help his students achieve their goals.

“When I went to work for the “Navasota Examiner Review,” I didn’t know how to take pictures and I needed to know how to,” McConal said. “Dr. R. checked out a camera for me and took me around campus for 2-3 weeks to teach me how to become a photographer so I could qualify as both a photographer and a writer.”

Finding ways to rub his joy off onto those around him, Herskowitz remembers Robinson as a modest man living his life to see others excel.

“He was a gentle heart,” Herskowitz said. “I never saw him sad or mad; you never knew if something negative had happened in his life because he was always joyful and ready to help.”

Not only did Robinson excel as a teacher, but he also excelled as a counselor to his students.

“Ferol always sensed when the students had problems and needed money or a hug,” Herskowitz said. “He was the one person who students knew they could always talk to because he didn’t make judgments.”

Herskowitz remembers Robinson as a uniquely sweet man who was always patient.

“He really brought out the best in everyone,” Herskowitz said. “He puts the bar so high for the rest of us.”

Not only did Robinson change the lives of students he came in contact with, but because his students were interested in sports writing, Robinson found a way to have the course taught at SHSU.

“He was so proud of that course because it was the first sports writing class taught at a university in the United States,” Herskowitz said. “When our first class began, we had a total of 40 students.”

During his time at SHSU, Robinson was the supervisor of SHSU’s newspaper, The Houstonian.

“He was a teacher all his life,” Herskowitz said. “He thought all the stars were the students who got their by lines in the paper.”

As many previous students and colleagues, friends and family filled the church for his funeral service, many took time to share amongst themselves how Robinson changes their life.

“He was known for being a teacher,” said Rev. Ellen Willett. “He didn’t teach you from a text book, but he taught you from life.”

As Willette read from a book of small notes that friends and family made for Robinson a few years back, many began to cry as they recalled their own memories of how he touched their lives.

“At times he was your encourager, your guide, you ambassador and your friend,” Willett said. “He loved to be with people and people loved to be with him.

Both McConal and Herskowitz say that those who were able to know Robinson are blessed.

“I don’t want to make it sound like he was a saint,” Herskowitz said, “But he was close.”

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